Ernie Els and President George H.W. Bush were among six people inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday night, kicking off an interesting week for the golfer from South Africa. He'll be one of two hall of famers in the field at The PLAYERS Championship, joined by 2007 inductee Vijay Singh.
Other inductees in St. Augustine, Fla., included Doug Ford, a two-time major winner; Jumbo Ozaki; Jock Hutchison; and the late Frank Chirkinian, described by The New York Times as the "father of televised golf."
Els described himself as "lucky" to the adoring audience, according to The Florida Times-Union: "I got the breaks in life and won at the right time." That probably oversimplifies the career of the golfer known as "The Big Easy," considering he's won three major tournaments, including the British Open in 2002. Next month, he'll return to the site of one of his other major victories: the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, where Els won in 1997.
In order to do that, Els will have to get his putting game back in order, starting this week at TPC Sawgrass. After a month of experimenting with a belly putter, Els is going back to a traditional flat stick this week for The PLAYERS Championship:
"I think I’ve got too involved with my putting. I’ve always been a good putter, and for some reason there’s been so many gremlins in my head this year with putting. I don’t know if it’s a midlife crisis or what it is on the golf course, but it kind of felt like that a little bit. I went back to the drawing board this week, back to what I know. I feel very natural again."
Els, who won twice on the PGA Tour in 2010, has never won The PLAYERS Championship. He'll be the 16th golfer to compete in the tournament after being inducted into the hall of fame.